Mentoring Change 3: How to Recognize Pre VS Post Decision
As part of our Christian mentoring resources, I want to talk about if someone has decided to change. You will be a much more effective marriage mentor when you recognize when someone has or has not decided to change.
The outside light by my front door burned out a few weeks ago. Understand that I don’t like to do maintenance on my house. I would rather spend all day developing a PowerPoint than get out a screwdriver, take the plate off the light, go to the store to find the right lightbulb and put it back together. I just don’t like to do this type of stuff.
A couple of days ago we had some friends over and it was dark outside. There are still some other lights that shine on the driveway, so I wasn’t too concerned. They knocked on the front door and I felt a little guilty about how dark the step was.
I was in a pre-decision mode. I knew I had a problem. I knew I had to change that bulb at some point, but I hadn’t done anything about it.
If you had asked me about it, I would have said, “That light bulb sure is a problem.”
If you would have said, “You could use a screwdriver to take off the plate that covers the bulb.”
I would have agreed, but I’d be a little annoyed.
How do you recognize when someone is in pre vs post decision?
Someone is post decision when they express a clear problem and the desire to act on it. Notice that you need BOTH parts: a problem and the desire to act.
Here’s how this plays out in a conversation.
Husband: “We spend too much time fighting.”
Mentor: “Anything else?”
Wife: “Yes, he doesn’t listen to me.”
Mentor: “Great, we have some communication tools that can help.”
The husband and wife recognize that they have a problem, but they haven’t expressed a desire to act on it. Is this a big enough problem to learn new behaviors?
When I was a new mentor, I would have been happy to hear about communication problems. I teach communication skills, so this is something I can help. I learned the hard way that I won’t be very effective rushing to advice.
Let’s look at a different conversation.
Husband: “I’d like a way to stop us from fighting.”
Mentor: “So, I’m hear that fighting is an issue with you and are looking for help. Is that right?”
Husband: “Yes, we can’t continue like this.”
Mentor: “Wife, do you agree?”
Wife: “That’s why we’re here. We hope you can help us.”
Do you see the difference? In the second example there is a desire to change. They may not know how to change or what to do, but they are looking for help.
Tips for Marriage Mentors:
- Look for a desire to act – Someone is post decision when they express a desire to actually take action to change.
- Ask for clarification – If you are unsure about where they are at in the process, ask additional questions. “Is this a big problem?” “Is it worth changing?” “What happens if you don’t change this?”
- Confirm with the partner – Remember, there are two people here. Be sure to get both perspectives. One person could be pre-decision and another person could be post decision.
As I sit here writing this, I’m beginning to feel more convicted about my burned out light. I think I’ll go to the hardware store and buy a replacement bulb. Hey, I just moved from pre to post decision!
Other posts in this series with more tips:
How do you recognize when someone is ready to change?